Two years after quitting the BJP in the run-up to the Assembly elections, former MLA from Mandvi, Kunwarji Halpati, returned to the party fold in Surat on Sunday evening.
Halpati (50), who was welcomed to the party in presence of several BJP leaders, including Bharatsinh Parmar, at the party office in Surat, said that he joined the ruling party to “finish the target to provide pucca houses to all the members of the Halpati community”.
“Last week, I received a call from minister Ishwar Parmar, and he told me to return to the party. I agreed, and we went to Gandhinagar to meet Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani. He (Rupani) is a good person, and he assured me to do all the development works for the Halpati community in south Gujarat. I also assured the CM that over 3.50 lakh Halpati voters are registered in Bardoli parliamentary seat, and they will definitely vote for the BJP in upcoming Lok Sabha elections,” Halpati told The Indian Express.
Halpatis belong to the Scheduled Tribes and are economically weak.
Kunwarji Halpati, who had won from Mandvi Assembly seat in 2007 on a Congress ticket, had joined the BJP in 2012 after the Congress did not field him in the Assembly elections.
The BJP made him the chairman of Halpati Gram Gruh Nirman Board. However, five years later, in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly elections, he quit the BJP after being denied the party ticket. He contested as an Independent candidate from Mandvi and Mangrol Assembly seats, and lost from both the places.
Halpati was expelled from the BJP after the Assembly poll results for “anti-party activities”.
“The reason behind my return to the BJP is that before I was appointed chairman of Halpati Gram Gruh Nirman Board, the community got Rs 45,000 from the board for building houses. I raised it to Rs 80,000, and when I left the board, it was Rs 1.20 lakh per beneficiary. There are over 15 lakh halpatis in south Gujarat, and still many stay in kutcha houses.
This is the major reason that I have joined the party — to finish my target of all Halpatis having pucca houses,” the former MLA said.
Minister Ishwar Parmar, who along with his cabinet colleague Ganpat Vasava, was instrumental in Halpati’s return to the party, said that Halpati’s return would benefit the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. “There are over 2.25 lakh voters belonging to the Halpati community in Surat district. Kunwarji Halpati has a good rapport in his community,and this will definitely benefit us in the upcoming parliamentary elections,” Parmar told The Indian Express.